beat story 1

Story by: Marilu Muzzi  

Aiding the community has become overwhelming for St. Joseph Parish of Zephyrhills. The need in the community far exceeds the funds that are being raised in the church, according to parish business administrator, Theresa Miner.

“It’s unbelievable what the amount of need is out there (in the community),” said Miner.

The parish aids local families by helping them pay for rent, gas, prescription medications and electric bills. However, since word got out about this practice the community need has doubled.

“We have been bombarded with requests,” Miner said.  In the last 60 days, the church has received over 20 requests from different families. Most of the money the church raises comes from its parish members, according to Miner. Rent and electric bills add up quickly and the church is unable to provide enough funding for all. 

 “There just isn’t enough (funds being raised) to go around,” Miner said. She opens a folder full of request and reads one. It is from a single mother of three who needs help paying the electric bill. If the money is not paid by today, the power will be turned off. Since there aren’t enough funds for everyone, Miner is faced with a difficult decision.

“How do I pick and choose? Who am I to judge who needs the money the most?” Miner said. She is in the process of putting together an assembly of parish members who will help her in deciding which families receive funding.

Raising funds for charity outreaches is something that the parish has been doing for years. They raised 25 thousand for the Tsunami relief fund, according to associate pastor Jayanna Kanna. 

“We are very a generous parish,” Miner said.  The church also raises money every month for the St. Frances Foundation, which helps abused and neglected children in the area find safe places to live. 

 “When people are in need, we have to be there to help them,” Kanna said. Kanna is from India and has set up a program that aids the poor there, as well. The church sends money to India to help children in underprivileged villages receive an education, said parish secretary Kathleen Kelly. Pictures of the children are displayed in the church office.  

 In addition, the church creates food baskets and a toy drives during the holidays, said Kelly. To help assist funding for these programs parish members created a thrift shop boutique. They transformed a former priest house into a thrift shop. Trish Dunham and her husband helped transform the small dwelling into a shop that is run by volunteers. They painted the walls, hung bright colored curtains in the windows and converted the kitchen into a dressing room.

Here customers can find name bands, like American Eagle and Liz Claiborne for inexpensive prices and the money collected helps support the church’s charity outreaches.If interested in aiding the church’s charity programs, either visit the thrift shop or stop by with a donation.


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